Karina Kolokolchikova – On false female empowerment and coming out the other side.
Hello my name is Karina Kolokolchikova, but I mostly know to go by Uma,
it’ s one of these typical nicknames that somebody gives you, that you haven’t chosen yourself if you chose them yourself like „ call me like this“ it never works.
They started calling me Uma for the apparent resemblance I have to Uma Thurman and it stuck to me.
And so now I try to get away from that nickname to be Karin who I am and I am 24 years old „ Oh my! 24“ I always want to say 20 years old.“
Right now I live in Barcelona. I live in between Madrid and Barcelona and I am thinking of permanently moving here. Right now I am working as an actress, specifically for TV commercials and advertisements which bring in the money, and collaborating with different projects with artists from here or Madrid. Like series or short films, music videos and I also work as a model. I studied journalism with a masters degree in International Conflicts and I like writing, a lot.
I translate poems, I write my own and I write articles on the subject of women. The rights of women in the Middle East, about female genital mutilation or that custom they seem to have of throwing acid in their faces or even without having to go that far the inequality women receive even in Europe.
What was a transformative moment in your life?
The most recent transformative moment I am living right now.I am in this state where I am transitioning between having lived for a long period of time in Madrid, where I studied, working on all my aspirations there, where I created this kind of world and surrounding where I was able to develop and now moving here ( to Barcelona) feels like starting from 0. Finding those people again that can support you in different aspects, from writing to translation, acting or posing… and it is complex. Because I am not the girl I used to be when I started out and I have a different perspective about work than I used to.This moment is now and it’s complicated, honestly. I am going trough a rough patch.
I feel that being in the sort of existential limbo also allows you to have some time to relax, stop doing so many things… To really focus and decide where do you want to invest in, where you want to put your energy into and not being spread over 1000 projects at a time.And I am in this process. Because I just discovered that I would really like to do stand up. The script I told you I was writing is a female humorist who is starting out. It is also a very complicated field for women. They always say that the physical appearance inhibits the possibility of a woman being funny since supposedly people aren’t able to listen as well if they get distracted by looks.They can’t take you seriously.
There have been situations in my life where I was offered a job that made me question myself what I honestly had to offer…this made me question the motives behind the reason these, mostly older man need me, want to hire me, for me, my brains and smarts or just to because they like pretty things and surround themselves with beautiful things. And this can lead to problems in relationships as well. When an attractive woman only feels like a „trophy wife“ who is shown off with loads of pride. Without realizing that beauty is so ephemeral like everything in this industry. Where fresh faces are fourteen years old. And I will never have that face or body and I’m 24.
That’s why it never really crossed my mind to work as a model seriously or to focus on it a 100%. Not just because I don’t have the body for the standards imposed nowadays, that long super skinny tall look, but because it is ephemeral. If you are not one of the few who becomes a top model and live up to the expectation and live well from it, which is not my situation, at 22-23 your gone bad. And then nobody wants to work with you. During the process of working as a model, your mind doesn’t work. You get to know very „ cool people“ and you might exchange knowledge and vital experiences but when I am most active is when I am translating something, writing, investigating, talk to people,
interview them is when I feel most alive.I go to sleep thinking: „ My day has been purposeful There have been contributions..“ And when talking about acting I feel the same. When I act with other people who teach me so much, I feel very blessed.
What did you take away from the experience of nude photography?
I did naked photographs with female photographers with whom I had a trustworthy relationship. They were specialized in nude photography and in that moment in time I felt it was so
„ empowering“. I saw it how liberal feminist defends it:
Freedom, youth, a body that is nice to look at, nobody can tell me that I can’t do this. This how I express myself. Even if I got the most typical negative comments I really didn’t care. Because I saw so many another girl on Social Media doing the same I felt like
„ Oh, how cool! We are changing the world!“
So when I started researching for the kind of articles that I write, about prostitution, pornography, and other problematic female experiences. I started to question myself.
„ How can I be talking like this about pornography and objectification of the women in this industry like the Internet. I started to examine my own behavior and questioned what is it really I am trying to achieve with these naked pictures. A lot of people asked me that and my answer was: „ It’s art !“
and people would be like,
„That’s great but what is the message?“ about you laying naked on a couch…
And I didn’t know.
I didn’t know what else to answer…
Maybe „ Oh it’s just for myself..“
„ Ok..how come you publish it on the Internet..?“
Maybe a way to find a positive feedback about your own body and mixing that into your identity and also a feminist statement ..which in reality is non-existent?
And I regretted it a lot, to have done it.
Nobody said anything about it, not my parents, not my partners, never anybody got upset by it. Just by myself by ways of analyzing and researching pornography..and seeing that even if my message and the message of the photographer were positive and pretty it get’s lost in translation when the image goes across the globe. Also in which hands it ends up passing through.
Unfortunately, a lot of my pictures ended up on pornography websites. Without my consent. I found out through friends who „ happened to discover them by accident.“
So I asked myself what do I want to achieve. I have a lot of very young followers who write me with questions about how to become a model…I don’t know why it’s not that I famous or anything…but I am always open to give out some advice…This got me thinking how this naked images can influence these decisions that these young girls make. There is gratuitous nakedness everywhere and an incredible hyper-sexualisation of society. Where the naked body has no impact. Tits, and ass…
And I just thought that it is in my hand to transmit a certain kind of message about who I am to the girls that follow me. It is not so much that I care about what they think of me but the consequences of my actions can influence their decision. Maybe the context could be misinterpreted and context is everything.
And the last step was admitting to myself that naked photography was not empowering. In this society in our country, it is absolutely not an empowering movement.
Empowering to me is seeing all those Polish women go out on the street, dressed and say:
„ We are against the law that forbids abortions.“ and we will document it for you. And I am a lawyer and she is a politician, and she is a doctor and we will prove to you why you can’t go through with this law. That is empowerment. This is an intellectual, developed, smart woman with a career. That
uses her brains and her voice to change things. Going out on the streets DRESSED, being themselves. When I saw that I was like
„ Wow, that is empowering!“
My tits are not empowering. And something very beautiful Emma Watson said when they talked about naked imagery and her decision not be in naked scenes or pictures because for her an elegant and sexy woman is a mysterious woman that make you want to take off her clothes using your imagination.
I can’t undo those naked pictures of me. Unfortunately, they will probably be there forever. But if I could go back in time I would have never done it. I regret it a lot.
But it’s OK. I made that decision because of liberal feminist movements that support that kind of things and I got misled I didn’t further investigate and took the easy way, I think. To me this messages that are being sent continuously seem very dangerous. The message in which through sex and the use of your body you can appear to be strong.
What would you tell your fourteen-year-old self?
I would congratulate myself. I was handling it quite well. I would tell myself that I am doing a good job. I was very worried because I didn’t have a lot of friends and studied a lot and read a lot.And it was hard for me to integrate myself in the Spanish school system. I got bullied for my physical appearances, every day. The made have a rough time. I feel like crying because I was having such a hard time and it so lacked importance the comment people made about me that I have never again seen in my life.
I would tell her that I am doing great, keep on studying, keep on reading and not doubt the decisions that she is making and the fact that not being friends with any of the popular girls or not having had a boyfriend doesn’t make her less valuable. And not to worry about her appearances. Not to bother what other think about her. That it all doesn’t matter and everything comes in its time.
I wold probably hug her and tell her that everything is going to be alright.
Instantly I have like a thousand answers… about what I like about me …but I think I will for sure appear priggish…but I guess what I like most about myself… and a quality that come up often when interacting with other people … I don’t have resentment towards people. It comes easy to forgive people and it is not that I forget it but …if I am in a situation of conflict with a person it is hard for me to forget it but if this person comes to me to apologize it is very easy for me to forgive. I empathize a lot. I could be in their place and I might want to be forgiven. And would ask them to forgive me. So I would say that is on elf my best qualities.
Knowing how to forgive.